My son William is a lot like me; he likes to take things apart and put them back together again. He is curious and very smart. He is a sweet, sweet kid who loves to give hugs, just like his poppa. William also has special needs. At the age of two, he was reading books by Dr. Seuss. But around that time, we noticed he had difficulty communicating and expressing his feelings.
My wife and I put him in a school in the Bronx, but the teachers there neglected him. He wasn’t getting the services he needed. And that neglect — incompetence, really — was taking a toll on him. I could see the sadness in his eyes. He got so frustrated that he started acting out — hitting and throwing books in class. I was worried about William. We didn’t want him in that school or in any of the other failing schools where we live. Finding the right one for him was a real nightmare.
In 2013, we were lucky enough to win a seat at SA Bronx 2 in the lottery, and we were thrilled. The first couple months were rough, but no one at Success gave up on him. From the principal to the teachers to the school psychologist, everyone saw the potential in William — special needs or not. They went all out to help him reach that potential. Now he is thriving at school and so excited.
I’m telling you about William because there are thousands of other children trapped in failing schools who need you to speak up. These kids deserve the same opportunities that William got.
If we don’t fight for those opportunities, and for those children, who will? That’s why I have been to every rally and shared my story with state and local elected officials. There are thousands of parents and kids in this city who need what William and I have at Success.
So I urge you to show up and join me and my family on Wednesday, September 28, to stand up and speak out for great schools and real change.